WDS 3.0 Beta Engine Preview
Some news sites are posting a link to the WDS 3.0 Beta Engine Preview that’s up on the Microsoft Download Center as of today. A few things about this release:
- This release is an engine preview and has no UI.
- Most WDS users, even those that love installing Betas, should not install this release (but rather wait for the next beta which will have UI).
- This release is for developers targetting the WDS 3.0 indexer on XP/2003/Vista, or beta testers of applications that use the WDS 3.0 Indexer – like Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2.
- Some of the UI can actually be turned on by creating a registry key in “HKLM\Microsoft\Software\Windows Desktop Search\DS” called “ShowStartSearchBand” and setting it to 1. You can then click “Search” on the start menu and see the familiar WDS UI. However, lots of things are broken and this version of the UI is almost entirely untested and unsupported. (thus why it’s disabled by default).
So what’s different in WDS 3.0 from the current WDS 2.x releases?
WDS 3.0 represents a massive undertaking to turn WDS into a platform component to power the Windows Shell, Office, and any third-party applications that want indexed search functionality. Any of you that have run beta versions of Windows Vista have already used the WDS 3.0 indexer. Just like so many other Windows Vista platform technologies (like Windows Presentation Framework, .NET 2.0, etc), this represents the downlevel redistributable for users that haven’t upgraded to Vista but want to run applications that are built upon the technology included in Windows Vista.
Just like in Vista, this version of the WDS indexer runs as a Windows Service, and not a user-mode application. This means that your system only needs one index regardless of how many users you have. Data and search results from the system index is only accessible to users who have permissions to access that data directly. So even though there is only one index, each user will only see items belonging to them or that are shared. This also means that the WDS 3.0 indexer can index even while no users are logged on.
Applications such as Microsoft Office (or any other third-party application) can use the WDS index to store data and perform searches, thus eliminating the need for them to store seperate indexes or implement custom search functionality, removing redundancy and providing a more consistent and unified experience for the end user.
However, as I said above, this release represents a very early state of the WDS 3.0 package, and is meant only as a preview of the indexing engine and not of the WDS 3.0 user experience. Unless you have a specific need for the WDS 3.0 engine, you should continue to use the latest official release of WDS (version 2.6.5) for now.